iCYouth: Life with Conviction (Makenna)

Thank you for your generosity to Immanuel. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

By Makenna Nahorniak

There are moments in life in which you realize the magnitude of the change that is happening, the old ways that are being uprooted and the new dreams that are planting themselves firmly beneath your feet. I’ve been looking for the new thing that the Lord is doing. I’ve been stretching my heart far off into the unknown land that is the future, but Jesus continually calls me to do one thing of utmost significance: Be where your feet are.

We often wonder why we have the tendency to overlook the significant moments. We ponder how we could possibly have missed the grandeur of Jesus’ love when our flesh was frail and weak. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because we all too often become blinded by the glittery, worldly idea that we might become full by the existence of anything other than Jesus.

If there’s one truth that has resounded deep within my heart throughout the last several years of my existence, it’s this: The Lord calls us to live each moment with purpose and deep conviction. He doesn’t simply desire that we know the truth, but He also requires that we act on the glorious truths He has made known to us.

In John 15, Jesus talks to His disciples about the world— the things it’ll expect of them, the troubles that might plague them and the sin that will confront them. He says some startling things in this passage that I think we, as Christians, need to pay close attention to as we walk beyond the doors of our homes each morning to leave some sort of impression on our communities.

John 15, verses 18 and 19 say,

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Jesus doesn’t promise that the world will be enthralled with us as we choose to pursue Him with every inch of our beings. Oh no— He warns those who desire to follow His lead and live lives of purposeful conviction that the world will hate them.

The world will neglect you, it’ll make you feel small, it’ll bombard you with lies, and it’ll call you to fade into the background and let someone else take charge of working for the Kingdom of the Lord. Fellow believers, it is a deep desire of mine to see each of us walking away from the things we place in between ourselves and God — the things that cause our eyes to fall from the only One capable of setting our souls ablaze with truth and life to the fullest.

Let us start today. Let us be intentional in the ways we walk— not as lost and lonely but as found and fulfilled. While we were off seeking a stunning life filled with empty wishes and hopeless dreams, our Heavenly Father had His heart set on a whole and restored group of followers who would willingly cast each earthly burden aside to exalt His precious and worthy name.

I think Charles Spurgeon said it best when he wrote,

“I cannot trifle with the evil that slew my best friend. I must be holy for His sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it?”

When our hearts are truly awakened to the deeply satisfying love with which the Lord has radically changed our lives, we must respond by pursuing closeness with Him and surrendering to His holy ways. Today, may we find ourselves completely drenched in the Presence of God and captivated by the infinite value of the set-apart lives He calls us to pursue.

Makenna headshotMakenna Nahorniak is a senior at Christian Life School. She enjoys leading worship, singing, reading, writing and using her words to encourage others’ hearts. 

Extra Strength: Daddy’s Little Girl {Sheryll}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

Sit, Walk, Stand: Divine Promises Guaranteed {Sunday, May 24, 2015}

By Sheryll Belonga

Sitting in the back of the church gives you the opportunity to observe a lot that goes on in front of you.  For someone like me who can be easily distracted at times, that isn’t a good thing, which is why I aim for sitting in the front. But on this particular Sunday I believe sitting in the back was a blessing because what caught my eye was intentional.

There was a little girl sitting next to her father, nothing uncommon about that right.  But then another little girl came in. As she made her way to her seat the first little girl moved over giving the second little girl that place. She was now the one sitting next to her daddy.  You can tell what a joy it was for her because she sweetly laid her head on his shoulder and I imagine that it was a joy for him as well because he then leaned into her.  She was daddy’s little girl.

It made me think about how God views us.  Can you imagine one day just sitting next to your Father in heaven with an inner squeal of delight?  It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past or how disobedient you may have been the day before, He still leans into you.  It is His desire for you to know that you are loved.

Romans 8:38-39 says:For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In the past that verse would pass over me.  But on Sunday, as we said it out loud together, it sank it. I believed it. I think there are others in the church for whom that verse simply passed over and I believe there are two reasons for that:

  1. It is a language you are not familiar with.  Sure it’s English, but it is a spiritual language that only those who know Him and believe in Him can fully comprehend.  If you have never begun a relationship with Him or opened your heart to His gentle nudging, then these words may not mean anything.
  2. You don’t believe it to be true.  So often as Christians we become numb to the scriptures that are often quoted. We hear them so much that instead of them making us rejoice they simply pass over us. We are allowing shame and guilt to hold a spot in us that blocks that verse from fully taking root.

blog 5.25.15

 

Over the past year I have been praying away all the shame and guilt from my past that keeps trying to hold me back from truly experiencing God’s grace and His love. Yes, I know that I am forgiven but I had not fully forgiven myself. On Sunday, I realized that I had made a breakthrough.  I truly believe that NOTHING can separate me from His love.  He pursued me and He holds me, not in His hands like the song says, but in His arms.  I am Daddy’s little girl.  So please excuse me while I take my place nestled right next to Him.

Sheryll Belonga is wife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.

 

 

Be Challenged: 

  • What are the things that are holding you back from truly experiencing God’s grace and His love?  Begin to take those things to God and seek His forgiveness if you have not already repented. Remember that when we repent, we turn away from the sin.  If you have already repented and been forgiven but you are stuck like I was, keep bringing it to God and recite the Romans 8:38-39 verses until you believe it.

Our Prayer for the Monday After: Divine Promises Guaranteed

TheMondayAfterPrayerEach Monday we’ll be bringing Sunday into the work week by sharing a prayer for the week based on the Sunday sermon. You can now catch the sermon blogs written by our blogging team Wednesdays, where they’ll offer a mid-week shot of espresso to help re-energize, encourage and challenge us in the midst of our work weeks! 

The Monday After Sunday, May 24, 2015: Sit, Walk, Stand: Divine Promises Guaranteed

Yesterday, Pastor Joe Boerman launched the first part of his final sermon series at Immanuel with his message, What’s So Good About the Good News? We looked at Ephesians 1:1-14

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[c] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own[d] by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Pastor Joe highlighted a few things:

blog 5.25.151. “When you became a Christian you were given the life of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

2. “The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal in our lives. One translation says the Spirit has tagged us as being His.”

3. “The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of our salvation, our eternal inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

For the next seven days:

Make this your prayer: “Lord, I know nothing can separate me from your love. Help me live like that’s true through the power of your Spirit in me.”

iCYouth: A Year of Changes (Erianne)

Thank you for your generosity to Immanuel. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

By Erianne Thedorf

Such a bittersweet moment as this iMPACT year comes to a close. So many memories were created this year and experiences for which I’m so grateful!

Another winter extreme was added to list, where we fought our way to the top and got 2nd in Broomball! Mafia Madness returned as well, dressing up as mobsters and tackling the scavenger hunts! We then finished off this year with the Impys and said goodbye to our seniors.

Not only was there a goodbye to our seniors, but in the beginning of this year we had to say goodbye to Josh Peterson as the youth pastor as he takes over the senior pastor position in the church.

With the beginning of the year in a sort of rocky position, our iMPACT students were able to hear from multiple of our youth leaders as well as some of our peers included. The search for our new youth pastor had ended when we found Steve!! A warm (but mostly cold) welcome to Chicago in early January!

Steve has been so awesome in already making such an impact at iMPACT! His messages have been fruitful in so many ways and it was a great way to start off the 2015 year. I’m looking forward to seeing just what Steve has for us this next school year.

ErianneErianne is a Junior at Grayslake North High School. She enjoys books, movies, music and meeting new people!

Extra Strength: Chosen by Love {John}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

Listen to Sit, Walk, Stand: What’s So Good About the Good News from Sunday, May 17 2015

By John Worth, Immanuel attendee and blogger

God cared enough to choose us before the world began.

Have you been thinking on that? I have. As I’ve reflected on the message last Sunday, I have thought about how I am chosen. I am not just a number or a job title or even my name; I am an adopted Child of God.

I was an orphan with nothing to offer yet was chosen to become a co-heir of Jesus. But the part that stands out as most unbelievable is that it had nothing to do with how good I was (or was not), or how I may have worked hard for it. He chose me solely because of His grace through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and His great love for me. When I really let it sink in it all makes my head spin; there are lots of “why” questions and only one answer that stands: God has chosen me because of His great, His deep love.

This thought of being chosen brings to mind the adoption process our family is a part of right now. We are currently preparing to travel to Eastern Europe to adopt two girls into our family. We know that God providently brought these two sisters across our path and has given us the opportunity to choose for them to join our family.

Why did we choose them? Honestly, we chose them because of love. We chose them because we love them. We delight in them. They have been wonderfully and fearfully made by a God who is madly and clearly in love with us. We chose them because God chose and loved us first giving us the opportunity, in a very tangible way, to understand what love looks like, giving us the opportunity to extend that same kind of love to others.

We have been chosen because of love by love Himself.

I want my soon-to-be daughters to know God has chosen them, and he loved them enough to rescue them, to adopt them into His family just like he loved me enough to rescue me and adopt me into His family. God has used our adoption journey to teach me about what it means to be chosen and about what it means to be loved. He has shown me through this journey about His great love for me in His adoption of me.

Today I am choosing to live as one chosen and loved by God, adopted into His family and redeemed through His son.  Today I am choosing to be loved by Love. Will you?

IMG_8516John Worth is a lifelong attender of Immanuel and husband to Hyacynth. John’s two boys keep him and Hy on their toes most evenings. When he’s not nose deep in spreadsheets at work John enjoys helping others navigate the waters of life.


Be Challenged: 

  • Dwell in the deep truths of God’s love for you by sitting in His Word. Reread Ephesians 1 and ask the Spirit to overwhelm you with His love as you read.

Go Deeper:

  • Tell us about how God’s love changed your life after you said yes to Jesus! Email HyacynthWorth{at}gmail{dot}com if you would be willing to share your story.